Stephen Colbert Out of Character: Here's What He Might Be Like as Host of The Late Show

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
April 10 2014 3:00 PM

Stephen Colbert Out of Character: How He Might Be as Late Show Host

Stephen Colbert
We've rounded up some of the best videos of Stephen Colbert out of character.

Photo by Theo Wargo

CBS announced today that Stephen Colbert will take over for David Letterman as host of The Late Show. The announcement left many curious: We know Stephen Colbert the persona from The Colbert Report, but what is Colbert like when he’s playing himself?

To give a better sense of what Colbert is like out of character, we’ve rounded up a few of his best out-of-character clips.
 
1. On The Late Show with David Letterman (2005)

Before the start of The Colbert Report, Colbert went on The Late Show with David Letterman. Though he was not the household name he is today, he seemed comfortable being himself and talking about what it was like to grow up as one of 11 brothers and sisters.

Forrest Wickman Forrest Wickman

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

2. Hosting The Daily Show (2004)

With Jon Stewart out (“suffice it to say there’s a reason why the M-80 firework is banned in 49 states,” Colbert cracked), Colbert hosted the Daily Show back in July 2004. His demeanor as host will be relatively familiar to fans of the Report—as he does on that show, he still emulated many of the mannerisms of the news anchor—but he didn’t adopt the same blowhard-conservative persona he uses today.

Advertisement

3. On Meet the Press (2012)

Colbert has appeared more than once on Meet the Press. In this interview, Colbert switches in and out of character to show both Colbert the persona and Colbert the performer responding to the 2012 presidential race. As a performer, he says he was pleased “that Mitt Romney got his shit in a pile.”

4. On Slate’s Political Gabfest (2013)

Last March, Colbert made a special appearance at Slate’s live Political Gabfest in New York City. In the tradition of the show, he offered his own “cocktail chatter,” about Richard Nixon.

5. Explaining his character to John Kerry (2007)

For this video, Talking Points Memo was allowed backstage at the Report to see Colbert explain his “willfully ignorant” character to Sen. John Kerry.

6. On Whose Line Is It Anyway? (2006)

Talking to Vulture last night, Jon Stewart said of Colbert, “He’s wonderful in Colbert Report, but he’s got gears he hasn’t even shown people yet.” On this 2006 episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway, Colbert showed two of those gears: Colbert the improv comedian, and, perhaps most surprisingly, Colbert the rapper.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.